By Megan Auger, Communication Management Intern
Culture shock is defined as “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes.”
Sometimes this phrase has a negative connotation, but for many of us, experiencing culture shock is what makes us well-rounded and diverse individuals. Whether it’s traveling domestically or internationally, experiencing different lifestyles allows us to begin to understand others’ backgrounds and ways of life. In today’s social landscape, a broader understanding of others’ differences and beliefs helps us to better communicate and engage.
Let’s say you live in New York City. Taking a trip to Tulsa, Okla., or Columbus, Ohio, would be a major change from the hustle and bustle of the city life you know. The pace of life definitely would be slower, and you might find other differences in social interactions, political beliefs and lifestyle values. However, you are sure to find some similarities, too, which are equally surprising!
Sometimes, the smallest differences can make the biggest impacts on us (like accents or work ethics). These discoveries help us learn about and understand how others live and feel. They also give us a measure to examine our own attitudes and values.
As important as it is to note cultural differences here within the United States, culture shock occurs more often in international travels. Hirons’ very own Hannah Riffle, Communications Management intern, studied abroad in Ireland on a trip that granted her life-changing experiences that she believes changed her view of the world.
“This opened my eyes to the possibilities and diverse ways of thinking. Before the trip, I thought of the world from a national lens. Now, I think from more of a global lens,” she explained.
By traveling to Ireland, Hannah was able to learn about the social norms, religion and lifestyles of the Irish, which broadened her perspective and worldview. “Being abroad made me thirsty to learn more about other cultures and how we interact with each other because we all bring something unique to the table,” she said.
After experiencing such new and unique ways of life, we tend to see things more objectively and accept others for who they are. Even though it may come as a “shock,” it’s a positive one that we can take back with us and use in our everyday lives.